A Parent’s Guide To Minecraft

A Parent’s Guide To Minecraft

Guest Post By Will.B

What Is MinecraftWhat is Minecraft?

Minecraft is a virtual 3D Lego-like building game for the computer, where the player is free to make anything they want. It is a great way to encourage creativity and helps to build on team skills and working together to reach personal goals. After the initial purchase of the game, there aren’t any other forms of extra purchases. Some players have made some extraordinary builds that have taken over a year to build. See the screen shot below of ‘Minas Tirith’ a ‘Lord Of The Rings’ build.

Below is a story on Minecraft Leonie Smith was involved in for Channel 10’s “The Project” On 25th May 2015

Is Minecraft safe for kids?

Certainly, if it is used correctly and if you are restricting whom your child is playing with. However, there are many public servers for Minecraft that allow players to talk to complete strangers through a chat. Minecraft does not have any graphic content, but there are monsters such as spiders and zombies. However, the monsters in Minecraft are very cartoon-like.

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Different Modes Of Play Minecraft
Different Modes Of Play Minecraft

The Different Versions of Minecraft

There are so far 3 versions of Minecraft for different platforms (gaming devices):

  • The PC version is by far the most used and provides a large variety of user-made servers (A place where many people from different places can play together) to play on, meaning that the likelihood of you meeting a complete stranger online is almost certain. However, if you do not wish for your child to be playing on a public server with strangers, they may create their own server and only the people they invite will be allowed on it. (Experts and advanced users only) (Click here for server setup tutorial).
  • The mobile version of Minecraft is available for iOS Apple and Android devices, and has a smaller community, but still allows players to play and communicate with one another. There is a huge reduction in the risk associated with this version of the game, but there are fewer features than the PC version.
  • The console version of Minecraft is available for Xbox and PlayStation, and is pretty popular, but still has a high risk of meeting a complete stranger. However, making a private server where only your child’s friends can play on it is very easy.
‘Minas Tirith’ a ‘Lord Of The Rings’ build.
‘Minas Tirith’ a ‘Lord Of The Rings’ build. Screen Shot by Leonie Smith

Parental Control Settings

Currently in Minecraft, there are no parental control or privacy settings. However, there is a way to stop your child from being able to play with others.

Minecraft has two main player options:

Singleplayer: Singleplayer is entirely safe, as no one can join the player’s game and no one can contact you through the Minecraft chat.

Multiplayer: This is the mode that you need to be careful of, as players can join any game they want, public or private, and can contact any player, weather they are friends or strangers. Minecraft Modes

LAN: You can also play together with friends in the same location or room, if you are all sharing the same modem via Ethernet or via WiFi. Log into Single Player and the click the “esc” button out to the ‘Game Menu’ screen and click ‘Open To LAN’ and then ‘Start LAN World’ Other’s then can join you if they are playing the same version of Minecraft. They go to ‘Multiplayer’ and the game then searches for local games, they should see an pop up to join your game. For more information, see this link

LAN Playing with friends at home
LAN Mode – Playing with friends at home

In Minecraft, there are many different modes. (These are for both Singleplayer and Multiplayer):

  • Survival: In survival mode, the player must survive against monsters and hunger. However, the monsters can be turned off by pressing escape, going into settings and turning the difficulty to ‘peaceful’.
  • Creative: In creative mode, the player is free to do whatever they want, and monsters cannot attack them.
  • Adventure: In adventure mode, the player is not allowed to break any blocks, but can only kill monsters and animals, or be killed by monsters.

Beware of Viruses and Malware

Always make sure that you are downloading Minecraft from the official website (Click here). Otherwise, it is very likely that you will download some sort of virus. Do NOT download the game from any website that is claiming to be giving it away for free or is a ‘torrent’.

Mods:

Additional content can also be downloaded for Minecraft through ‘mods’, which are small or large changes to the game that are unofficial. There is a small risk that if you download one of these ‘mods’, you will download viruses or malware on your computer. Always make sure that you are pressing the correct download button when downloading a ‘mod’ off the website, as many of those kinds of websites have multiple download buttons for different software in order to be misleading and to try and plant a virus on your computer. ‘Mods’ are a bit risky, because the only way to tell if a ‘mod’ is really okay is if the ‘mod’ is very popular or if the website looks official and secure.

Spiders In Minecraft
Spiders In Minecraft (screenshot by Leonie Smith)

Child-Friendly Servers

There are many servers in Minecraft that have been set up exclusively for families and children to play on safely. The servers have strict rules on language and behavior, which is guaranteed by the moderators. They are also whitelisted, meaning it is impossible to connect unless your name has been added to the list, preventing random strangers from joining the server. Some of these websites include:

http://www.sandlotminecraft.com

http://intercraften.org

Kids Safe YouTube Minecraft Channels:
Always check before subscribing.

NEW! A site created by two young minecrafters!  http://www.cleanminecraftvideos.com where only child friendly Minecraft videos are shown.

https://www.youtube.com/user/CaptainSparklez
https://www.youtube.com/user/TheDiamondMinecart
https://www.youtube.com/user/iBallisticSquid
https://www.youtube.com/user/paulsoaresjr
https://www.youtube.com/user/MinecraftUniverse

Parental Consent:

Playing on Minecraft Realms, chatting in Scrolls, making purchases, or changing settings on the Mojang account site, is not possible now unless you have parental consent which includes verification via a credit card.

Minecraft Realms is a paid subscription service where you can host a server for friends simply without having to set up I.P addresses, ports and LAN networks.

 

For more privacy and safety settings have a look at my Step-By-Step Cyber Safety Manual

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  • Ying Jing

    I love minecraft. But my mom is afaid it is a virus. What can I do?

    • Ask her to read this post 🙂 As long as you only download the game from the official store and don’t add mods from dodgy sites you should be ok.

  • Daniel Smith

    Well.. my only problem that my parents think spending money on games is “Wasting”.. Even after they did read this post they still say it’s “waste”.. what could I do? I LOVE minecraft.. I love roleplay mod.. but all roleplay servers are just premium..

    • Every parent has to make their own rules around what their child is allowed to play or spend money on. Lots of families have these rules.

  • Silvia

    I really want to go on a white listed server but my parents are worried about hackers getting hold of our computer.

  • epicsadface

    OMG NEWS FLASH U CAN TURN OFF CHAT OMG

  • Michelle Hauser

    Does anybody know the “Lifeboat” server? My son downloaded to his tablet while at a friend’s house for a sleepover. He’s only 8 and this is already starting to get away from me. I’m thinking it’s not a safe thing for kids but all of his friends are using it. Any thoughts?

    • Playing online with strangers is definitely not safe for kids unless you are in the space with them.

      • Michelle Hauser

        Thanks Leonie. We’ve deleted it and I found some family-friendly servers where you have to apply and follow well-established codes of conduct and we’re going to try one of those.

        • Better idea. Also as I suggest in the post above, set up a white listed server for your son to play with his friends only with your supervision.

        • Xgamer – Gaming

          Lifeboat is a VERY popular server that removes cuss words, they have a great chat protection, very good server.

  • Team Revival

    I’ve been reading through comments on sites like these, and one thing I have realized is that money comes up quite often. I bought minecraft when I was 10, back when the game was brand new, However my parents had the same concerns as most of these kids’ parents. I didn’t know how to convince them so my friend gave me a tip. He told me to save my money. I saved up 30$ in 6 months and my mom decided to use her credit card to buy the game for me, except I was the one who payed for it. I’m almost 16 now, and I have been playing minecraft for a good 5 years, and even though there are more entertaining games for my age out there like Black Ops and GTA, I always come back to MC. It has a certain “magic” charm to it.

    So my tip to all the kids out here is, Find out if your parents are more concerned about the money, or the game. If it’s the money, ask them if they will get it for you if you buy it, and hopefully they’ll say Yes. If it’s the game, tell them to look at this site for some pros and cons, and easy ways to overcome said cons.

    Hopefully they will let you get it, and you will have an amazing time, and who knows, maybe some day, meet people who also like to play minecraft.

  • Cari Borchert

    Thanks for your article – as a parent it is very helpful! I want my kids to be safe online and they want to “meet up with their friends”. While the answer is a private server, I also keep seeing that to establish a private server, one must be tech savvy and have some background to do so. Neither my husband nor I are that familiar with all things tech – are we just out of luck then? Any other options? Currently, we ask our kids to mute the chat as they’re mostly into the action, not the socializing. But as they get older and wanting to connect with their friends, this makes that impossible. We’ve toyed with skyping while playing as an alternative. Any other suggestions for un-savvy parents?

    • Thanks for your question Cari, actually most kids learn how to set up White listed servers themselves, it’s not unusual for a 10 year old to figure it out if they follow the Minecraft Wikki I have linked to in this story. It would be great if it were easier to set one up, but that is why Mojang have Minecraft Realms with a subscription, for those that don’t want to work out how to create their own server. If your children are too young to learn how to set up their own server they are probably too young to play on public servers and would be better playing single player or with friends on a LAN at one of their homes. Talk to the other parents and see if one of them can help set one up.

  • Julia

    what do I do? My parents are scared that they will lose money by putting their credit card number in. I keep on telling them it’s ok no one will take your money.

    • Hi Julia, if you are talking about buying the game? You can use gift cards if it’s on mobile. There are also limited credit card like cards you can buy from the supermarket, for small purchases. It’s unlucky if your credit card gets stolen on line but it does happen. Most banks are very good at refunding money if it happens.

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  • Stacy Petaros Oswalt

    Your article failed to mention a very key piece of info when it comes to safety and mods that parents would find very important- there is a sex mod, which any kid can download. Are parents really certain they’re kids aren’t downloading things?

    • Katy Crookston

      I am positive that my children are not downloading things. They know how but are not allowed. I stay involved in their online play – I play with them – so I know what is going on. Granted, my kids are still young, so they are probably easier to keep tabs on.